The state of research and practice in early childhood science education is at a critical tipping point. The encouraging news is the considerable national, state and local activity around early childhood science education. An increased focus on science has the potential for improving multiple areas of school readiness through learning opportunities that draw on young children’s natural curiosity to understand their world. Active engagement in doing science also provides young children with a foundation for thinking and problem solving that can serve as cognitive models for the challenging years of school that lie ahead. The flip side, however, is the dearth of empirical research validating the effectiveness of science activities and early childhood science curricula. A major barrier to conducting such research is the lack of reliable and valid assessments to provide a strong evidence base on best practices in science education, key factors that support these practices and how these practices affect young children’s competence in science. This chapter presents an assessment framework for programs seeking solid evidence to understand what constitutes best practices in early childhood science consistent with the recently published Next Generation Science Standards. The current state of assessment in early childhood science is also reviewed. Chapter sections cover summative, screening and formative assessments of children’s science competence, teacher’s science pedagogical knowledge, teaching practices, and attitudes and beliefs about science, and assessing classrooms for facilitating science learning. Although very little critically needed assessment work has been published, promising work is underway and is also reviewed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Sciences(all)